Mitt Romney's team plans to meet with NBC to address the network's request his campaign pull an ad attacking Newt Gingrich that uses NBC Nightly News footage from 1997.
"We will sit down with the lawyers and talk to the folks at NBC and make a decision on that front," Romney told Matt Lauer on Today from Jacksonville, Fla., where he is campaigning in advance of today's primary.
"We'll certainly consider that very carefully; obviously, this was not something taken from hidden files, this was on the evening news, so it should hardly come as a revealing piece for people who watch it."
In the Romney ad, then-NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw delivers the news that Gingrich had been sanctioned by members of the Republican Party and had been asked to step down as Speaker of the House. It is one of a series of ads the Romney campaign has employed against Gingrich to slow down his momentum following his victory in the South Carolina GOP primary.
While the ads are apparently working — a new NBC News/Marist poll shows Romney leading Gingrich by 15 points in Florida — NBC has asked for the Nightly News footage to be pulled.
"The NBC Legal Department has written a letter to the campaign asking for the removal of all NBC News material from their campaign ads," said Lauren Kapp, NBC senior vice president for marketing and communications.
Brokaw has also voiced discomfort with appearing in the ad. "I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad. I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain in any campaign."
But Romney told Lauer today that he believes the TV ad hits Gingrich where it hurts — and since it is newscast footage, the Gingrich campaign cannot accuse him of distorting his record.
More on this troubling story here.